Marco Goldschmied laid bare the underlying resource of architecture in the annual lecture of the Faculty of Economic Science, held recently at the RIBA. The hidden resource is land rather than buildings; it is land that makes money. The Rogers partner declared an interest in the philosophy of Henry George, and the 'pernicious burden' represented by the taxman in relation to land and land values.
He reserved his greatest venom for the planning system, interventionist and apparently run by tyrants. Out of date and out of touch, Section 106 agreements were cash contributions to local authorities who were enticed to act unethically and sometimes corruptly, he said.
The audience liked his discussion of values in relation to the practices Montevetro apartment block on the Battersea riverside. One penthouse is expected to fetch £4 million; the entire site was originally purchased for £4 million, but sold on with planning permission for £25 million. It could be worth another £25 million by 2002.
It all reminded one of the late Reyner Banham's statement: 'The history of any piece of architecture is bound up with the history of the parcel of land on which it stands.'